Friday, November 10, 2006

And how would you like your Moose done ?

One of my next door neighbours, let's call him Fred, is an outdoorsman in the truest sense. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking all that stuff in abundance. We joke that if Armageddon comes we're heading straight to Fred's house because we're sure he has enough arms and provisions that we can survive almost anything.

Last week, as I'm arriving home from walking daughter to school, Fred bounds out of his truck and says "Hey, do you want some Moose ?". It appears that he has just returned from picking up the 250 lbs. or so of Moosemeat that was his share of the most recent successful hunt. I gratefully accept and am presented with a package of frozen Moose steaks and another of ground Moose (there is also a side of Sockeye involved but that's another story). I thank Fred profusely and ask him if he knows what cut the steaks are "Nah" he says "he just cuts everything from the loin into steaks", fair enough I think, and toss the steaks in the freezer.

After considerable research I am left with the conclusion that there appears to be no real consensus on how to prepare Moose steaks. Our exec sous at work advises treating it like Bison, but admits to no personal experience with Moose. Various websites offer conflicting reports, some suggest long braise, others short periods of high heat grilling. I forge ahead.

Tuesday morning I take the steaks out of the freezer, by Wednesday morning they are defrosted and placed in a marinade of buttermilk (the buttermilk bath showed up on more than one site) for 24 hours. Thursday morning I rinse off the buttermilk and dry the steaks, upon further examination they look a lot like top sirloin so I decide that I'm going to treat them like top sirloin. The meat has virtually no marbling fat and the colour is almost a bluish tint on deep red. I prepare a marinade of tamari, shallot, dijon, elephant garlic, salt, pepper, red wine and olive oil and pop the steaks in the marinade and back in the fridge - it's about noon by now.

At 7:15 I take the steaks out of the fridge to warm up. At 8:15 I place them in a medium hot pan and saute for 4 and a half minutes per side, then remove to settle while deglazing the pan with beef stock. I place down a bed of onions and crimini that have been sauteed in butter with garlic and rosemary, then finished with balsamic, and slice the steaks and serve over the onion/mushroom combo with a healthy drizzle of pan jus.

The Gods are with me as the steaks are a perfect medium. The meat is not overly gamy but has that hint of "sauvage", it is similar to bison in texture and overall really, really good. Roasted redskin potatoes, baked squash and a very good bottle (Hollick's 2003 Limestone Coast Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon - on sale for $17.99 and a recommended buy) make for a fabulous "Autumn Dinner".

Now do I use that ground moose for ragu, moose burgers or kick-ass moose chili? Be afraid Bullwinkle, I may be developing a habit.

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